At least 18 people have sadly died following a plane crash in Kerala yesterday.
Air India Express flight 1344, carrying 190 people from Dubai, skidded off the runway at Kozhikode (formerly Calicut) in rainy conditions.
The two pilots are among the dead, according to Air India Express – the low-cost subsidiary of Air India.
What happened to flight IX 1134?
Flight IX 1134 was a Vande Bharat repatriation service, helping Indians stranded by the coronavirus crisis get back home.
The flight, operated by a Boeing 737-800, was carrying 184 passengers, including 10 infants, and six crew.
Following a four-hour flight from Dubai, the plane crashed at Calicut International Airport at 7.40pm, local time, on its second attempt to land. An earlier landing was aborted due to monsoon rains lashing the city.
According to a tweet from India’s civil aviation minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, the aircraft ‘overshot the runway’ before plunging down a 35ft slope and breaking in two.
Kozhikode has a ‘table-top’ runway, which are runways located at the top of a plateau or hill, with deep gorges at one or both ends.
After impacting a ditch, the Air India Express plane broke into two sections, with the front half of the jet said to be badly mangled. Fortunately, it did not catch fire and emergency services were able to rescue many passengers.
As well as at least 18 fatalities, there are many people seriously injured.
What happens now?
Minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the scene of the crash on Saturday and posted these photos on Twitter, showing the chaos and destruction caused by the crash:
Executives from Air India and the airline’s ‘Angels’ have also reached Kozhikode, to support injured passengers and their relatives.
Staff from India’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Flight Safety Departments have also reached the city and have launched an investigation into the crash.
The plane’s digital flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder (the ‘black box’) have been recovered and could provide clues as to what went wrong.
According to reports, the aircraft was captained and operated by one of the airline’s most experienced commanders, Captain Deepak Sathe, who had reportedly landed on the Calicut airfield as many as 27 times, including this year.
Indian PM Narendra Modi tweeted to say he is ‘pained’ by the incident. Payments are now being made to those affected by the crash.
A toll-free number has been established for family or friends of those who may have been on board flight IX-1344. Call 1800 2222 71.
Our deepest condolences go to all those impacted by yesterday’s disaster.